Lauren Jauregui wishes her coming out could have been different.
The singer appeared on the “Red Table Talk: The Estefans” episode about cyberbullying and slut-shaming to talk about her experience being outed globally.
“I’d been dating the girlfriend that I’ve had at the time for probably a year at that point, but we had fallen in love when I was 15,” Jauregui recalls. “I was at my uncle’s wedding in New Orleans and my aunt very innocently posted the photos from the photo booth onto her Facebook page.”
Eager Fifth Harmony fans found the Facebook album and discovered some very personal photos.
“It was a link for the family to be able to click on and my fans are just a little wild and they found the picture where my girlfriend and I — we were drunk — [were] kissing,” she reveals.
The photos took on a life of their own, however, when gossip columnist Perez Hilton posted them on Twitter — An act Jauregui felt outed her identity as a member of the LGBTQ+ community to the public.
“He definitely outed me. I wasn’t ready because I’m also Latina,” Jauregui explains. “There was that whole looming thing of, ‘What is my community going to feel about me? Are they even going to accept me?’ I know that my family obviously accepted me. But was that something that I was willing to deal with on a public scale?”
It was a difficult time for the singer who adds, “I felt like my own process was violated.”
Hilton told People, however, that he saw the situation differently.
“I’m genuinely sad that she was bothered by that, [but] I’m not gonna fake an apology,” he explains. “It was her fans that caused this photo to go viral. By the time I commented on it, it had already gone viral. It wasn’t like I was given this piece of information or a photo and I was the first person to share it with the world; it was already trending by the time I chimed in.”
Hilton posted the picture to Twitter in 2016 with the caption: “Why are Fifth Harmony fans being so extra over this photo of Lauren Jauregui kissing another girl? NBD.”
The writer clarifies he will appear on the next episode of “Red Table Talk” to talk about the story from his perspective.
All I did was send out a tweet talking about the leaked photo and I said "Why are #FifthHarmony fans being so extra over this photo of @LaurenJauregui (in the red) kissing another girl? NBD!" I don't regret that. I never claimed or presumed anything about her sexuality.
— Perez (@ThePerezHilton) December 8, 2021
While he felt differently in this case, there have been times in the past where Hilton apologized for outing some celebrities.
“Maybe in the future, if I reflect on it more, I might take what I did in this situation was wrong, but I put thought into it before I shared that photo,” he continues. “Is this outing? And is that wrong if I share this?”
After the episode aired, Jauregui took to Twitter to make sure people knew she was in a “healed place.”
“I don’t wanna rehash drama or center my story on either of these happenings, they were my contribution to a larger conversation of cyberbullying,” she wrote. “With that being said, bringing awareness to such a topic would be completely in vain if we took this opportunity to send hate and nasty s**t to anyone.”
said, bringing awareness to such a topic would be completely in vain if we took this opportunity to send hate and nasty shit to anyone. It doesn’t matter who they are or what was done, returning venom doesn’t solve anything and it contributes to this nasty culture of anonymously
— PRELUDE (@LaurenJauregui) December 10, 2021
She condoned telling Hilton or anyone else to “harm themselves.”
“I don’t want any of you doing that in my defense. I understand it’s hard to hear vulnerable things but the reason I share is to transcend and bring awareness, not to contribute further to the problem.”
the problem. We aren’t the ones who get to decide what someone does or doesn’t deserve for harm caused, and I certainly am not dwelling over what was done. I wanna focus on the message which is to be kinder with your words, more thoughtful with your words in this online space.
— PRELUDE (@LaurenJauregui) December 10, 2021
She finished by asking people to think of how they would feel first and to “keep in mind your mental health” while on social media.
Jauregui also addresses the intense scrutiny from the public and cyberbullying she faced as a girl group member of Fifty Harmony, while also recalling when classmates made an AIM page calling her a “slut.”
“I remember coming home and seeing it and just feeling sick to my stomach because these are girls that I consider my friends and they’re publicly humiliating me and calling me a ‘slut,'” she says.
Despite what she went through as a teenager, the artist says she is in a much better place now.
She admits, “[I don’t] care what people say about me because they don’t know me… Those people are not well, there’s something mentally wrong with the way that they view life.”